In case you, like me, have always assumed that dental implants are for old people, let me explain.
When I was a teenager wearing braces, my orthodontist decided there wasn’t enough room in my mouth for all my teeth. He pulled an adult chomper on the left side of my lower jaw, and the same on the right side. He filled the empty spaces with smaller fake teeth which were attached to crowns that fit over the big teeth behind the empty spaces.
More than 20 years went by. Then, last fall, while I was attempting to floss under and around the fake tooth on the left side, I accidentally popped the crown off. Underneath the crown was the real tooth that had been covered up for two decades. And, surprise!, the real tooth was totally rotten.
My current dentist figures I must’ve had a cavity in that tooth when it was covered with a crown all those years ago. Through the years the tooth, hidden by the crown, just kinda encapsulated its own ugliness. But when the crown popped off and revealed the problem, it was evident the tooth had to come out.
So last fall the rotten tooth in my mouth was pulled out, which left a two-tooth emptiness in the lower left back of my mouth. Makes it hard to chew.
About that time, I and Beau decided it was time to invest in dental insurance — for, you know, unexpected costs, and more specifically for my problematic teeth.
You see, there is concern that if that toothless space in my mouth is not filled, the teeth from above will start to sink down into the space. And that would be a whole new problem.
The solution? Dental implants to replace my two missing teeth. A dental implant is basically a screw driven into the jaw to replace each missing tooth.
“It’s eight hundred down per implant,” they kindly advised me at my dentist’s office. We can only hope that our new dental insurance will do its job and pick up at least part of the balance. Apparently screws are really expense in the dental world. Sometimes I feel like my teeth are approaching the million-dollar mark between all the money my folks invested in them when I was young and the money I’ve spent on them as an adult.
(By the way, I really wanted to get just one implant, totaling $800 down, right in the middle of the open space. But the surgeon advised against it. “If you were eighty-five, I’d recommend one,” he said. “But you’re young, and you won’t regret having two teeth there.” So it was $1,600 down. There went our summer vacation.)
Yesterday I drove myself to town and survived the implanting process. Using what I perceived to be tiny drills and tiny screw drivers, the oral surgeon cranked two small (I can’t say they were tiny) screws into my jaw. I was heavily numbed, so the process was relatively quick and painless. They sent me home with three prescriptions: a painkiller, an antibiotic, and a high-powered mouthwash. Cost not included in the implant package.
So now I have two screw heads poking out where those two teeth should be. In a few months, after the screws are thoroughly set in my bone, little fake teeth will be attached to the top of each screw.
And then, maybe, my million-dollar teeth will behave themselves and not cost us another frivolous dime for the rest of my life. Maybe?
© Tami Blake